Colleen moved from her long-time home, near Philadelphia, to make a fresh start in Lancaster County. Little did she know, this quiet cottage held a terrifying secret.
The Classic Haunting Begins
Colleen found a perfect little cottage, near Manheim, Pennsylvania. It had a bit of character and history: She moved into a guest house behind a main home built in the late 1700s. The property had a cemetery on it, with about 20 members of the original owners buried on a plot not far from the cottage.
Inside, something had happened. Black soot stained the rock chimney in the living room. Something happened, but the landlord didn’t know what that was, nor did the previous tenant, who still lived nearby.
A few days after she moved in, Colleen noticed the cottage’s ghostly activities.
She explained that the house had all the common signs of a haunting: knocks, footsteps when no one is around, and random cold spots. In this case, the ghost also set off the house’s alarms. The back door would open and close on its own, which made embarrassing calls to the police.
Then she got a surprise one night in April.
Colleen said she was sleeping downstairs with her senior Labrador, Jinxie. As she pet her pooch, a male figure appeared, but only from the waist up. He wore clothing from early in the 20th century: a farmer’s hat, white shirt, and suspenders. It seemed like Amish clothing, which would fit Lancaster County. This figure stood by the door, looked at Colleen and her dog, then disappeared.
The next morning, Colleen asked the previous tenant if she had experienced anything unusual in the cottage. The tenant said she had seen something similar. In her encounter, she saw a similar man with a rifle appear by the back door. He opened it, triggering the alarm, then disappeared. The tenant began to ignore the ghost from that point on and evaded more questions.
Colleen then asked her landlord if she had seen a possible ghost in the cottage, but she didn’t want to talk about it.
That evening, Colleen had another encounter with the spirit.
As she slept, she felt something playing with her hair. She turned over to see the ghost on steps not far from her bed. The ghost looked like a man in his 20s, with blond hair and a baby face. He smiled at her, then vanished.
As a medium, Colleen could tell when a ghost was about to manifest. With this spirit, she didn’t get any ‘vibes.’ She was blind to its presence.
That blindness would be a detriment in the summer.
Horses, Butterflies and Knives
As part of her renter’s agreement, Colleen cared for a few rescued horses on the property. Each night, she brought them into a barn, treated their injuries, feed them and put them into their stalls.
On a warm evening in August, she was alone in the barn with Taylor, one of the horses. He had an injury to a front hoof. As she lifted it, she heard rustling to her left. She paused and looked around to see what it could be. Nothing seemed out-of-place, so she turned back to the horse’s injury.
She held the hoof when a trash can flipped over, a kranging sound shattered the quiet night. Taylor raised his head, tensed his body, and galloped around the corner of the barn. His lead whipped the back of his neck.
On a nearby table, a knife stood on its tip. It wiggled on the point, then slipped and fell off the table to the concrete floor below.
Colleen took a deep breath and told the spirit it had her attention. She still couldn’t feel the ghost, but she could feel negative energy around her. It came as a wave of fear.
She asked what it wanted.
A silence hung in the air for a few moments. “…pretty butterfly…,” it said.
Colleen ran from the area, toward the horses’ stalls, where she saw Taylor go. As she rounded the corner, she stopped at Taylor’s stall. The horse had gone to its stall, and stood shivering with his face in the corner.
Colleen approached the horse to calm him. Taylor didn’t flinch when she touched him. He seemed relieved it was her and let her take off his lead. Colleen grabbed some food and placed it into his feeder. She was about to pet his shoulder when the horse tensed again and Colleen felt something warm run down her neck and back.
She screamed “Don’t touch me!” and fled, slamming the stall gate behind her. As she entered the center aisle, she saw the knife balancing on the table again. This time, there was something black next to it. As she approached it, the knife fell over. On the table was a dead butterfly. One that looked just like the tattoo on her back.
A Lawnmower Ride Through History
After the barn encounter, Colleen began to search for the ghost’s identity. She tried speaking to the landlord again about the previous owner, but she never got an answer.
Over the summer, she was able to chat with a few long-term residents of Manheim. One of those residents was Eugene, a native of the area, and only 97-years young.
One day in September, Eugene hopped on his lawnmower and rode it down the long, winding path to the cottage. He had a box filled with old photos, held on by bungee cords, strapped to the back.
He popped the cords, lifted the dingy box off the John Deere lawnmower, and called Collen over.
Eugene knew about the ghost in the cottage. He even saw them from time-to-time in his own house.
Yes, that’s right. It wasn’t one ghost. It was twin ghosts haunting Colleen.
Eugene opened the box and showed her a collection of yellow pictures with tiny tears and some frayed edges. The pictures dated back to the 1920s through the early 1940s.
The ghosts belonged to Carlton and Clayton Scherer, twins born to Mary Miller at some point between 1920 and 1922. Mary never talked about the boys’ father. She changed their last name to Scherer after she re-married.
Unfortunately, Mary died from the influenza outbreak in the mid-1920s. Carlton and Clayton went to live with Eugene’s family after that. Apparently, the step father didn’t want the boys around and he skipped out on them.
As for the boys, they didn’t get along well. Carlton was a bit of a sociopath. He was the one who set the cottage on fire, leaving the burn scars on the chimney in the house. He also smoked, got fresh with many young ladies, and didn’t graduate high school. Clayton was the nice one. He graduated from high school and volunteered for the military during World War II. Carlton tried to join as well, but he got rejected. Apparently, he was too much of a psycho for the military.
At some point during the war, Carlton did manage to enlist and went to Europe to fight the Nazis. The brothers found themselves together during the Normandy invasion. Both died within a few hours of each other on Omaha Beach in France. Now, their graves lie next to each other at Normandy American Cemetery.
Eugene thinks Carlton haunts the barn because he liked to scare the animals. Clayton is likely the smiling ghost in the cottage.
Now that Colleen knows the ghosts’ identities, the ghost in the barn doesn’t try to scare her. And the ghost in the cottage politely closes the back door.
Jacob ‘Jake’ Rice has always loved ghosts and scary stories. When he’s not being a tech nerd for work, he’s the gadget guy on the team. He hunts ghosts, spirits and other paranormal entities in Seattle and the Puget Sound area.